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California Employment Law

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How Do I Know When I Have A Claim?


Employment Law Claims in California are characterized by violations incurred by employers against the people who work for them. These violations can range from hiring, firing, pay, and hours worked of an employee (discussed in full detail in the later sections of this guide).


California has one of the most employee protection laws in the United States, on top of Federal Labor Laws and protections that hold employers liable for a variety of employment reasons.

If you feel you’ve been on the receiving end of these employer violations—regardless if you’re still applying for the job or have already left it—then you should contact a California Labor Law Attorney to help you seek compensation.


Can an Employer Fire Me Without Cause?


Short answer: yes.

California is an “At-Will” state. This simply means that the state laws allow for employment at the discretion of the employer—including immediate firing for an undesirable personality, as a means to downsize, or simply because of a terrible mood. These are seemingly meaningless reasons, but are technically not illegal.

However, “At-Will” employees are still protected by a number of labor laws such as California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)—and firing them as a violation of those laws is illegal.

Here are some laws that protect “At-Will” employees in California:

The California Fair Employment and Housing Housing Act (FEHA)


Employers are prohibited from firing at-will employees based on race, religion, color, age, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental handicap, medical condition, genetic information, or marital status under the FEHA.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)


Employees who join a union or use their rights under collective bargaining agreements are protected under the National Labor Relations Act.


Essentially, dismissing or threatening to fire an employee for attempting to unionize or join a labor organization is illegal and would be a wrongful termination.

Whistleblower Protection Acts


These regulations prevent employees from being dismissed in reprisal for reporting workplace misbehavior or violating the law. Employees who have a reasonable suspicion of a state or federal law violation, such as discrimination, safety issues, or making false statements to get funds or assets from the government.

Leaves of Absence Protection Laws


At-will employees in California are protected from being fired if they take specific types of leave.


Time off after an on-the-job injury, maternity leave, jury duty or presenting as a witness in a trial, voting (two hours at the start or conclusion of a shift), and military service are all examples of protected leave.


How Do I Report My Employer?


Depending on the violation, there are several agencies you can report to.

At the state and federal levels, several labor and employment agencies deal with various job-related concerns:

  • The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE)

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity and Housing Commission (EEOC)

  • The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)

  • The California Department of Industrial Relations (California Department of Industrial Relations)

  • Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)


It is also possible for workers in California who believe they have been subjected to labor law infractions may file several complaints with numerous agencies. If you have a discrimination claim under DFEH and a workplace safety claim to OSHA, you can have your California Employment Law Attorney help you work through all the paperwork at once.

Depending on the type of California Labor Law Claim, you will have to approach a different agency. These agencies will have different forms, procedures, and waiting time. As a general rule, what you should do when you’re deciding to take it up to any of these agencies is to:

1.  Call and Set an Appointment

2. Complete and File Separate Forms

3. Having your claim admitted into the agency’s services can end up resulting in two possible outcomes:

  • The agency handles the case for you

  • The agency will give you “permission to sue” your employer with the help of a Labor Lawyer in California


What Type of Evidence Do I Need?


While your lawyer will hear you out, the best evidence is tangible and provable. Whether it’s a digital trace or a paper trail of documented infractions, you should always keep tabs on them in case you need to file a labor law claim. These can be any of the following:

  • Photo and Video. If you are being discriminated against or sexually harassed in the workplace, think ahead and start collecting photo/video evidence on your phone. If you are being made to skip lunch and rest breaks, make sure to document them in a way that clearly shows the violation.

  • Pay Stubs, Receipts, and Other Documents. If your employer is skipping out or late on some paydays, gather paper evidence that shows this. If you’re being paid less for the number of hours worked, match your salary or wage information with time cards. If your employer or coworkers are leaving you notes to harass or discriminate against you, keep those, too.

  • Emails and Chat Logs. If your employer or manager is sending you unpaid extra work to be done at home, keep those emails. If your co-workers are constantly harassing you over work management apps and chat rooms, keep those as evidence. Match unfair assigned work schedules sent through your chats and emails with the number of hours stated in your contract, then match those with your paychecks if they’re going unpaid.

  • Eyewitnesses. California law prohibits any form of retaliation against employees who serve legal duties (such as serving as a member of the jury, or testifying against their employer). Consider finding willing co-workers you can trust, and ask them to back your employment claims as part of the evidence.


How Long Does An Employment Claim Take?


Employment Law Violations in California involve so many people and agencies that it might take several months to well over a year until you receive compensation or reinstatement.

There are also other factors, such as the availability and resources of the agencies, the evidence you have, the legal counsel at your disposal, and the number of eyewitnesses willing to help back you.

The best thing you could do is listen to the advice of your California Employment Law Attorney and follow the steps they will guide you through.


How Can I Maximize My Settlement?


Maximizing your settlement is dependent on a few factors done right from the beginning. Employment claims come in different forms and ensuing circumstances, so it’s not at all peculiar to have different solutions.


However, there are general precautionary and strategic things you can do to maximize your advantages:

  • Have Enough Evidence. One of the crucial factors to proving an Employment Claim in California is to have enough evidence to prove that your employer or coworkers did violate federal or state laws. Insufficient evidence will not only make you lose out in court, it might also be the cause for you not getting the “permission to sue” in the first place.

  • File Reports Before the Deadline. There are “statutes of limitations” that are predetermined time periods an individual is legally allowed to file claims. If you miss out on that window, you will no longer be allowed to file employment claims under state and federal laws. Agencies will also have deadlines depending on their guidelines, so pay attention to those.

  • Consult an Employment Lawyer from the Start. While some of these protection law agencies (like DFEH and EEOC) will sometimes step in themselves to process your claim, their offices are also swamped with a lot of reports. Instead of waiting for them to decide, contact an Employment Law Attorney to shorten your waiting time.

  • The tighter your defense and the more substantial your evidence, the more likely you will be favored in the battle for compensation.Even better, your California Labor Law Attorney will also be able to advise you on which agencies to file complaints to, whether there are multiple agencies you can approach, and do the investigations to collect evidence.


Types of Employment Law Claims


California Employment Law Claims is a broad term that covers several employer violations against a single employee or their collective workforce.

  1. Discrimination in the workplace

  2. Retaliation

    • Characterized as a retaliatory act to harm an employee for illegal reasons, such as: reporting harassment to HR, filing a claim against the employer, whistleblowing to uncover illegal activity done by the employer, etc.

  3. Wage and Hour

  4. Sexual Harassment in the workplace

    • Inappropriate sexual conduct either perpetrated by the employer or the employees.

  5. Leave of Absence

    • Failure to grant employees a paid, job-protected leave under Family and Medical Leave (FMLA). Common aggrieved parties are pregnant women, caretakers of chronically ill family members, disabled employees, etc.

  6. Workplace Safety

    • Failure to implement safety precautions that can lead to accidents caused by employer negligence.

    • Other than filing dangerous workplace environments to OSHA, you can also file for Workers’ Comp claims for injuries sustained in a workplace accident.

  7. Wrongful Termination

    • Firing an employee for illegal reasons, such as: discrimination or retaliation.


What is the Statute of Limitations for Employment Law Cases in California?


Depending on the type of case you’re forwarding, you might have a different deadline to be wary of. Use this list as a guide to help you set up your calendar:


For EEOC and DFEH Claims

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC ) has a 180-day deadline from the date of the alleged incident to file a complaint. This deadline is extended to 300 days under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act if the employee additionally files a complaint with the DFEH.

  • If the complainant receives notice that the agency has completed its processing, the deadline may be shortened to as low as 30 days.

  • Additionally, within 45 days of said alleged discriminatory action, the employee may be obliged to visit an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor. There may be exceptions that allow for an extension of this period, but the employee will not want to be in a position to dispute those grounds since their complaint may be regarded too late.

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